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Friday 23 March 2018

Robert Mugabe returns to Zimbabwe looking fit after long holiday

Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe gets out of his car at State House in Harare after returning from his annual holiday (AP)
Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe gets out of his car at State House in Harare after returning from his annual holiday (AP)

Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe arrived home from a weeks-long holiday looking sprightly, quashing rumours that he had a heart attack.

The 91-year-old president arrived late on Friday, joking with Cabinet ministers, military leaders and senior members of the ruling Zanu-PF party who welcomed him at Harare International Airport, according to a video published by the state-owned Herald newspaper.

Mr Mugabe held talks with visiting Equatorial Guinea president Teodoro Obiang on Saturday.

The presidents, two of Africa's longest-ruling leaders, are meeting before an African Union summit on January 30 to 31, a government statement said. Mr Mugabe is the chairman of the organisation of African states.

Earlier this month, a website reported that Mr Mugabe suffered a heart attack while on holiday in the Far East. The Zimbabwean government dismissed the rumour, saying false reports that Mr Mugabe is dead usually circulate during his holiday every January.

"You can doubt that there can be a New Year, but you cannot doubt that there will be a story on the president's alleged death every January," presidential spokesman George Charamba told the Herald newspaper.

The ruling party said it is planning "the best ever" birthday party for Mr Mugabe in February.

Mr Mugabe's 92nd birthday will be on February 21 but the party will be held on the 27th.

This year Mr Mugabe's birthday festivities will be held at Great Zimbabwe, a pre-colonial monument popular with tourists.

Thousands of supporters are expected to gather at the celebrations organised by the 21st February Movement, a youth branch of the ruling party named after the date of Mr Mugabe's birthday.

Civic organisations and opposition parties have urged Mr Mugabe to cancel his birthday celebrations, saying the money would be better spent buying grain for Zimbabweans suffering from food shortages because of an ongoing drought.

Mr Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in 1980. He is one of Africa's longest-serving leaders, along with Mr Obiang, who came to power in Equatorial Guinea through a military coup in 1979.

Press Association

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